Jump to content

A Brisbane trip

Recommended Posts

Part 1 Outbound


YMMB – YBAF 2/5/09 6:09 hrs 821nm 133kts avg speed 21 Litres/hr


Finally a simple straightforward flight. I’d done this one in reverse once before so no drama. Probably nothing to write about.


Got away early just after 9am. A bit of low cloud about but not at the airport so plenty of nice photo ops doing the VFR route around Melbourne. In fact I’d picked a really nice day, headed off on my trip way before I had to. In fact such a nice day I decided to leave a jumper behind and just wear a tee shirt.


Not even close to smart, I had all my maps and had spent hours on the flight plan based on a 9,500’ economical cruise height. About an hour into the flight the air leaks in the cockpit were causing a wind chill factor that made a mockery of the outside temp of 0C. Felt like minus a lot to me. ‘Wish it was only zero’ were thoughts oozing out between the shivers. My canopy cover became a jumper and at least I’d remembered a pair of gloves. It was cold and beautiful up there hour after hour.


I crept over a carpet of white cloud then into the clear for spectacular flying. Then it got interesting. I had a mountain range to cross with hills up around five thousand and cloud base probably around six. Sounds good, looked ugly. I had airspace considerations as my ceiling lowered and so did the options. No good climbing up for VFR on top, even with an airways clearance. I’m not legal to descend IFR if cloud is overcast at the destination, that’s just asking for it. I weaved my way through the valleys and made it to Brisbane, Archerfield, the GA airport, with a little fuel left in the tanks and the tower friendly and helpful.


I was pretty pleased with my Melbourne to Brisy of 821 nautical non stop. The controller started asking about the Long-EZ and told me of someone who’d made a trip from Cairns to Melbourne without refuelling 20 years ago, about 1360nm. Not feeling quite as pleased now. That’s a definite one stop for me at the moment. I sense a challenge for the future and carefully packed it away for my to-do list. No idea how, its just on the list. Tower controllers who chat… that’s new too.




Outbound VFR route – Sugarloaf reservoir

Morning sun and cloud

On Top

Panel enroute

Getting through 140nm out of Brisbane








Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part 2 Return


YBAF – YMMB 12/5/09 6:38 hrs 816nm 123kts avg speed 22 Litres/hr



The trip back was looking a little tighter. I cross four weather sectors and had a narrow time window until it closed in with some cold stuff near Melbourne. I now have a stainless steel guard on my prop so rain erosion is not a biggie anymore. Visibility is still an issue and storms, well, not interested at all in flying through them.


I’d had a mild headache for a few days and used to take some over the counter stuff with codeine in it. This always stopped the thing getting worse and I hadn’t had anything serious for years with this technique. Well now we have drug testing for pilots and this stuff can get you grounded with a ‘please explain’ requirement as the markers for codeine test the same as the illegal things. My strategy of prevention was gone but maybe the problem had too. Although, last thing you need in the air is a bad headache and a need to throw up.


Having studied everything, took off from Archerfield with all the correct calls, checked my VTC for the Class C step and climbed to just below that. I called a heading of 135 as nominated in the documents. It was looking ugly, headwind all the way and cloud was building fast for that first hour or so over the big stuff. Tower called me up and reminded me that its 1000’ only in the zone outbound. Missed that one. Its one line in the ERSA but somehow it was under my radar. Hmmm not too sharp.


The wind was keeping me to about 110 knots ground speed and everything was taking longer. I figured I was just out of the 7,500 foot limit when it seemed I wasn’t. However no drama as I had a plan in the system for nominated cruise at 8,500 and received a clearance which I only needed for about 5 minutes. Again not too sharp and I could have asked for an airways into Class C coming out of Archerfield. Just a bit foggy eh? My head was hurting and I was feeling a little crook.


From here all my attention was on safe flying and took her up to where I could clear the hills which sometimes meant a bit of valley flying as those clouds were coming down again. Rain was predicted for later in the day in Brisbane and as I moved on the area forecast was amended to include thunderstorms enroute – that was not in my plan! I worked out the expected times and it looked like I could get into the clear before them. Sure enough the big cumulus were building and soon I had decisions to make. Under or over?


Still not feeling well I decided there was more oxygen lower, visibility looked poor but no showers yet and there were several airfields enroute for just in case situations. Feeling worst now. Quite sick and a matching headache, OK decision time. Now I’m at 4,500 feet for a cruise level and past all the big hills after a bit of a challenge getting through the last of them near Inverell.


Toughen up! Yeah, plenty of people go on when necessary, athletes, adventurers, people who exercise… The question is how are my skills? Am I safe? Feeling poor made me a bit lazy, I missed a CTAF call and wasn’t happy about that. So I started testing. First up, very disciplined flying, meticulous attention to height and heading. Then fuel calculations and a series of time estimates for each waypoint. Then more arithmetic. I decided that if I couldn’t do all this while in flight, with accuracy, then its going to be get to the nearest airfield. I still had a good four hours to run.


More drills and more careful flying, the extra effort got me up to scratch and cleared out the lazy thinking. I was in the flatlands of New South Wales and it was a great gliding day. Pity I was in a heavy powered plane. Given I had a headwind and was worried about fuel consumption it was time for some basic dolphin flying, a glider technique of slowing in the rising air and speeding up in the sink. It was a low cloud day and the flat bottomed cumulus were layed out on track and in nice ‘streets’. There was no option but to use the energy to try and pick up a little more ground speed for a little less fuel.


Time moved on, I was swapping the fuel tanks every 30 minutes to the exact minute, making the CTAF radio calls to probably no one, but doing them anyway and staying on the right area frequencies in-between. No way I’ll ever have music in my plane, I just like to hear the engine purring.


Hours dragged, the view and the huge desolate spaces impressive as always. My appreciation diminished as feeling less than average coated the joy of flying. The focus was to watch myself, the plan remained careful airmanship. By the time I hit Victoria the first low fuel warning light came on. The forecast said smoke but that seemed odd as we’ve had no fires since summer. Well it must have been back burning day, fires all over and visibility was poor.


Getting near Euroa I heard ATC getting a paint of me and talking to a jump plane on climb to 14000 for a drop. I identified myself and got told there were going to be chutes. We established JZE, that would be me, at 6 nm North west of the drop zone. I ask Melbourne radar “At what range would I be clear?” Frankly I didn’t want to meet a parachute person. They are always in a hurry anyway.


I could tell Melbourne radar had no idea what a safe range would be and said he’d put me in contact with the jump plane. I diverted around to the West and continued south, never did hear from the jumpers. Time to change frequencies and I called up radar to tell em I was going to a CTAF and he told me that radar services are terminated. Fair enough, I never saw a chute and that’s a good thing.


Onward to Melbourne. I kept an eye on the low tank, loosening my straps, turning around and looking at the sight gauge. Nice to know exactly how much fuel is left, and watch the level go down. At about 12 litres I could see I’d have heaps in the other tank and swapped them for the final time of the trip. The valve has always been so stiff that I use both hands to ensure it doesn’t stick in the off position. That could ruin your day.


Much less than an hour to go and I’m not feeling good. Very sick, head not great but very unwell in the gut. Mind was still sharp, decisions OK so I flew on. Reported inbound at Academy for Moorabbin 17 left and got told I could take 17 right with a long final and do a frequency change. I guess they are used to me now, sure is nice. Less traffic on that side and no need to cross the active runway or slow down for students.


I made it in with a very smooth landing. That part of the flying has been OK for a while. Once the engine was shut down and she was parked, I could let myself feel really sick. Yep first time in 23 years of flying have I christened an airfield with ‘see food’ if you know the old joke. I was not well at all. Somehow I had to get my luggage out, pack the plane up and get home to bed where I could moan in peace. It really took something to get the aircraft covers on and I had to stop and try and be sick several times. I had little to give by then.


Finally its all done, its dark and I’m in the car. I’ve made it. I turn the key, the starter motor comes to life and that’s pretty much it. No way was that car going to start. Perfect way to finish off the trip. Still feeling like death warmed up I had to laugh. OK maybe a taxi home? No wait a minute, what about road service, I called them up and was told a 20 minute wait.


Well next thing I know I’ve either passed out or gone to sleep. Passed out is too dramatic so lets go with the sleep thing. Soon the car guy with his little yellow flasher is looking for me. We find each other, I give him the story. He jumps in and does his stuff, just tickles the ignition a few times and the motor comes to life. Seems when a fuel pump is old and you leave it for a week it might get stuck and need a jolt, smart fellows those roadside guys.


I drive home very very carefully. Crawl up to my room, SMS a couple of people re safe arrival, already called off Search and Rescue (SAR), fall into bed fully clothed, moan in private for a couple of hours and recovered to a better place by the next day.


Ahh another trip completed. Can’t wait to go flying again.



Brisbane, a warm and friendly city

Flying between the layers

Crossing the Great Divide

Just Getting through

Those Lakes after the hills








Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another great write-up Dave, thanks once again.


I wont say you always have a drama, but with all the flying you've done, you have racked up a couple now (namely the broken tie-down and JZE being blown about in Western Australia) on top of your poorly condition this return flight.


Once again welcome back and hope to catch up soon.




Bruce. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing the trip description and photos!


Anything they can do about that migrane type stuff? <sympathy smiley>

I live in my own little world! but its OK, they know me here!

Chris Van Hoof, Johannesburg, South Africa operate from FASY (Baragwanath)

Cozy Mk IV, ZU-CZZ, IO-360 (200hp) 70x80 prop

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife and stepson get those type of headaches. In their case they are tension induced (OK, don't go there). They can get rid of them by manipulating / massaging the upper shoulder muscles (towards the neck).

It relieves the spasm and reduces the chance of headache and subsequent pain, stress and nausea.


Hope this helps some!

I live in my own little world! but its OK, they know me here!

Chris Van Hoof, Johannesburg, South Africa operate from FASY (Baragwanath)

Cozy Mk IV, ZU-CZZ, IO-360 (200hp) 70x80 prop

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I may be alone here but I think you are lucky (skilled?) to have had a happy conclusion to such a long flight conducted in the condition you were in. I for one would not have continued flight feeling that bad. I'm glad you are down, but you might want to consider reevaluating your decision making. Passing out after landing is your body telling you something.


If I am way off base here I apologize. Maybe I'll reread what you wrote and get some other opinion. Anyway, it's just me talking :)

Larry Hendrick


Cozy Mark IV Started 2/12/2009 - Now on Chap. 6


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information